A alert has been given to other families by the daughter of a 77-year-old woman with dementia, saying sudden changes in her daily life triggered by closure may have contributed to her vanishing three times in the past two weeks.
Claire Dick said she found her mother, Margaret Paterson, lost and roaming the streets, and it was the first time she had been diagnosed three years earlier with Alzheimer’s disease.
She said it was lucky that every time she was found safe and sound, but she also spoke of her worries that at night her mother would be leaving her home in Giffnock.
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The charities of older people state that they have seen a sharp spike in calls from elderly people and their caregivers, especially those affected by dementia, for whom “life has become more difficult than ever.”
The Golden Generation of Glasgow (GGG), which operates a network of day centers and other community facilities, said that many older people are confused by government policies, while those who still live at home experience loneliness and alienation as day centers have closed down and have less family interaction.
The disturbance of everyday habits, which doctors believe can lead to worsening symptoms of dementia, reinforces this.
The pandemic and present closure have triggered “increased levels of stress, distress and anxiety” for the dementia community, Alzheimer Scotland said.
The number of volunteers employing its 24-hour helpline has been expanded by the charity.
Claire, who lives in Rutherglen, runs, on behalf of GGG, the David Cargill Day Centre, which her mother attends.
She said, “My mother has been found wandering three times in the last few weeks.”
My mother used to take two buses to the David Cargill Centre every day from Monday to Friday from her home in Giffnock. She’d take a bus home then, and that was her routine.
You have to try as long as possible to keep people with dementia in their routine,”You have to try to keep people with dementia in their routine as long as possible,”
“A person who lives in Giffnock got in touch, she got a bit of a fright and contacted my brother. She was on Fenwick Road, we don’t know how long she had been wandering. “She can’t tell us.
“She had gone to the pharmacy for the second time to pick up her medication. It was a Tuesday and on Friday morning we normally pick up her prescription.
The pharmacy called the doctor’s office and sent her in a taxi, and the doctor got in touch with me.
Perhaps it was a lapse, they said, because she was not in her usual routine.
The third time, with a fortunate stroke, my niece drove by and saw her. This was despite the fact that I had placed notes saying, ‘Please do not leave,’ on her front door.
“As many people with this illness do, my mother is able to survive from day to day. She handled just fine.
It was 11:45 one day when I came by, and her blinds were closed. I was banging on her door and walls, and I had to go in.
I was very scared because she was absolutely dead and I actually thought she was dead.
“But she came to and I called the doctor.”
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Claire said that after the recent events, the family is now paying more attention to Margaret.
Last week, after revealing the toll his own mother’s struggle with the disease had taken on the family, Richard Madeley urged the public to pay attention to the elderly, especially those suffering from dementia.
Lynsey Neilson, GGG dementia officer (pictured below), says it’s crucial to develop new routines for people with dementia that will help them recover a sense of normalcy.
She said, “For someone living with dementia, having a routine can be very important – for many of our members, coming to our day centers is part of that routine, but that’s not possible right now, of course.”
“It can be hard to keep up with the constant barrage of details and ever-changing policies for people with dementia living in the community.
We have seen a rise in elderly calls asking what the guidelines mean to them, and many of our members have told us that they are confused about what they can and can’t do,”We’ve seen an increase in calls from older people asking what the guidelines mean for them, and many of our members have told us they’re confused about what they can and can’t do,”
We promote the creation of new routines for families, caregivers and people with dementia to help them go about their day.